Andy Brewster is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, and who better to accompany him than his overbearing mother Joyce. After deciding to start his adventure with a quick visit at mom's, Andy is guilted into bringing her along for the ride. Across 3,000 miles of ever-changing landscape, he is constantly aggravated by her antics, but over time he comes to realize that their lives have more in common than he originally thought. His mother's advice might end up being exactly what he needs. (MovieWeb.com)
The bond between mother and son is an age-old dynamic, one that is comically approached in the road trip film The Guilt Trip. Directed by The Proposal's Anne Fletcher, the movie teams up the legendary singer/actress Barbra Streisand with modern comedian Seth Rogen for a unique match that may tread some familiar territory for some families.
But for The Guilt Trip, the story follows a son named Andy (Rogen) who visits his widowed mom Joyce (Streisand) while on a business trip to pitch an evironmentally revolutionary cleaning product he invented. During their visit, she tells him about a boyfriend she had before she met his father who she had actually named Andy after. Andy then looks the man up online and finds that he is living on the other side of the country. Thinking he could set his lonely mother up with the long lost love, he invites her to come with him on his tour to businesses across the country as he pitches his product, with the ulterior motive of having her meet this man at the end of their trip. What unfolds is a cute story about their exploits together on the road.
Most adult sons probably wouldn't want to be on the road with their mothers for a week, and this is Andy's situation here. He hopes the end result could help her, but the journey isn't one he really wants to take. The thing is, most familial relationships like these have a complex dilemma of the parent viewing their adult child as still a child while the child is fighting to be viewed as the independent adult they actually are. Such is the relationship between Andy and Joyce here, and it takes some lost battles for them to finally address their problems on screen. So most of The Guilt Trip spends its time with Joyce talking a lot and nagging Andy and Andy putting up with it. He doesn't want to listen to her when she might actually have good insights into his business pursuits, and she is too busy running her mouth to stop and have a real conversation with her son. This eventually peaks confrontationally, and then the movie has almost a complete tonal shift. But it's the film that leads up to this point that plods more than progresses nicely. With many family-centered comedies, it helps for there to be an over-the-top element to keep the movie entertaining and the spirits high even when things on screen are tense or awkward (think Liar Liar or Bruce Almighty when it comes to adding a surreal glaze to tense relationship situations). The Guilt Trip is kind of like watching one of the dryer episodes of The Office; it's a lot of awkward humor that may inspire a grin, but not elicit a real laugh (I honestly think I laughed out loud during this movie... only once?). Movies like these rely heavily on heart or humor, so when there isn't a substantial amount of either, what's left?
So the biggest problem with The Guilt Trip is pacing and tone. There are many dialog-heavy scenes that just feature the characters sitting and talking, which really only works if the content is engaging, interesting, or funny. Here, it works at times to develop the characters, but when there's scene after scene of characters sitting and talking, you'll probably be better off watching a movie like Lincoln if that's what you're hoping to see. The fact that the relationship between Andy and Joyce might hit home with a lot of post-college guys with their aging seventy-year-old mothers might hit close to home is likely to feel a little more familiar than comedic. However, the saving grace of The Guilt Trip is that aforementioned tonal shift. Once they air their grievances a bit in one heated argument, the movie gets a bit more upbeat and there's more spark in the chemistry between Rogen and Streisand -- rather than Rogen just making sarcastic comments under his breath after everything she rambles on about.
The content for the movie is undoubtedly PG-13 rated. Almost all of the profanity is, as expected, spoken by Rogen, but the film's lone "F" word is shouted by Streisand during their argument. Otherwise, Rogen uses almost a dozen "S" words (while Streisand says a couple), and Barbra frequently exclaims "God" or "Oh my God" throughout the movie. In addition to profanity, there's some frank talk about sex due to a book on tape called "Middlesex" that Joyce listens to, which centers around a person who has the organs of both a male and female. Lastly, there's a scene where their car breaks down outside of a strip club and we see scantily clad girls inside dancing on poles (but there's no nudity). It's all unnecessary stuff (and somewhat unexpected at times) for a mother/son movie like this, but not at all unexpected for a movie like one with Rogen as one of the leads.
While one could do far worse in picking out a comedy to watch than The Guilt Trip, the film just never seems to rise about mediocrity. It's a shame, too, because I actually did enjoy Fletcher's The Proposal a few years ago, but this movie just lacks everything that movie had that worked. It feels slow at times, and is likely to lose some viewers early on because of that, but at the very least, the movie has plenty of heart at the end to make the trip almost worth the time invested. If you're fans of either of the cast, chances are you'll like this more than the average movie goer, but The Guilt Trip runs out of gas sooner than it should.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 4/28/13)
Barbra & Seth (7:32) - This short featurette is dedicated to Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand and their chemistry together. We hear from the cast and crew about them and the film's story. The neatest part is seeing lots of candid footage of them on set. (1 "a" word, 1 "d*mn," 1 "d*ck")
Barbra's World (8:21) - This featurette is wholly dedicated to Barbra Streisand and features cast and crew gushing about her. We also get some insights into how they filmed her big steak-eating scene.
Guilt Trip: Real Mother of a Road Trip (5:47) - Dan Fogelman, who wrote the movie, really did a road trip with his mother. Amazingly enough, Barbra is basically playing Dan's mother here, as a lot of things--from eating M&Ms in bed to seeing the Grand Canyon together (and not wanting to stay long), to Dan being named after a former flame of hers and them stopping at a place where she attempted to eat a 72-ounce steak, was all inspired by his trip with his mom. Barbra was even his mom's idol...and was also named Joyce like the character!
In the Driver's Seat (7:15) is dedicated to Anne Fletcher as the film's director... with the cast and crew reflecting on working with her (1 "S" word, 1 "Oh my G-d").
Not Really a Road Trip Movie (5:16) reveals how it's a road trip movie but they were never further than an hour outside Malibu the entire shoot. So they show how different locations were faked for the movie -- including the blizzard being filmed in Cali!
Alternate Openings - There are two deleted openings, one showing Andy growing up (1:26) and an alternate title sequence (1:10) which continued the previous deleted setup.
Alternate Ending (2:08) - This ending is a bit too neat and convoluted as it shows both Joyce and Andy with more storybook-type endings... (1 "h*ll")
Gag Reel (5:09) - This is a collection of line goofs and some captured chatter between takes. None of it is really funny but it's kinda cute. (1 "J-sus," 2 "S" words, 2 "Oh my G-d", several bleeped out F words)
Deleted Scenes (19:23) - There are a dozen deleted scenes here. The first is a longer scene where Andy returns to his room and finds a bag of new underwear that his mom bought him. She then pops her head in and nags him about trying them on to see if they fit and he urges her to leave. The next scene is the following morning where Andy apologizes to her for being short with her. (1 "oh my G-d") Next is the uncut dinner table scene that includes the pre-"Action!" banter. (1 "t*t, 1 "d*mn") The following scene is an extended version of Joyce going to a Montclair Mature Singles Club, but it doesnt seem much different. Then we see Andy talking to an old man at the club to see if he's right for his mom. Then we have a string of outtakes of Barbra at a water cooler (2 "G-d"). We then have an unfinished green screen shot of Andy and Joyce in the car bickering a little (1 "my G-d"). There's then a short scene of Joyce getting situated in the car to drive and another scene where she battles with their GPS on the highway (1 "h*ll). Next, Joyce tries setting Andy up with a recptionist (1 "G-d"), then another brief scene has Andy being upset with his mom for taking too long to get out of the car when thry park, and finally a girl comes up to Andy in a bar and tells him she used to have a crush on him and he just dismisses her (1 "S" word, 1 "G-d," 1 "h*ll"). Overall, none of these scenes really add much to the movie.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 4/29/13)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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